My woman beats me up

By Drum Digital
05 January 2010

THE first time she slapped me I clutched my stinging cheek in disbelief. She lashed out as we sat opposite each other in a restaurant. Seconds later she picked up her glass of wine and threw it in my face. My sin? I had kept her waiting for 15 minutes.

It signalled the start of a long and abusive relationship that has now finally begun to unravel some four years later. In that time I have lost count of the number of occasions she unleashed a chesa mpama (klap) during one of our arguments.

Once we were travelling in a taxi and she gave me a klap simply because I was having a friendly chat with a female friend. She didn’t care if others were around because she knew I would not retaliate. Instead, embarrassed and demeaned, I just gave a stupid smile and sat there as if nothing had happened.

But what began as slaps in the face led to more severe beatings with her fists and anything she could lay her hands on – brooms, kitchen utensils and even chairs. Once she hit me on the head with an iron rod that opened a wound which bled profusely.

Again her attack was driven by jealousy as she was convinced I was seeing a young woman who had sent me an SMS. She checked my phone and flew into a rage before I could explain the sender was in fact my cousin.

As I held my head in pain and begged her to stop, she realised her mistake: “Oh, I’m so sorry, baby,” she said. “It’s just that I love you too much. I hate seeing messages from women on your phone.”

Then we kissed and cuddled and she promised not to do it again. That became the pattern: first beatings, then apologies and a few days later another beating.

I tried to dismiss these attacks as the rages of a woman who was madly in love with me and had simply lost her cool. I thought she adored me and just wanted me all to herself. I felt flattered by how possessive she was. But as the beatings grew more severe I became increasingly desperate because it seemed there was nowhere to turn for help.

If you mention your girlfriend is beating you people just laugh in your face. On more than one occasion I was ridiculed and even accused of being a sissy for letting a woman raise her hand to me.

After all, people said, you are a man who has been to the bush so how can you let a woman do this? And we all know the old saying often used by men in drinking holes: “Ubani utsalwa ngentshebe ngumfazi wakhe (so-and-so is being pulled by the beard by his wife)”.

But those who know me well will tell you I do not have it in me to strike back. That doesn’t mean any bully who wants to start a fight or rob me will get away with it – I have rearranged quite a number of bullies’ faces in my time. But hitting a woman is not my style. I had seen my father do it to my mother all too often.

Read the full article in DRUM of 13 January 2011

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